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Te Ards in the Seventies

at Waring Street, Belfast. During the early 1970s a need was shown to purchase a ‘WI Home’ as the staff had outgrown the rented offices. Trough the maga- zine, a fundraising appeal was launched and Institutes around the province set about reaching the target of £28,000. Mrs Betty Lyttle (Portaferry) with her or- ganising committee, and supported by all Institutes in the Area, held a successful WI Harvest Fair in the Queen’s Hall. Trough this effort ‘the magnificent sum of £1,450 was raised’ and a cheque for this amount was handed over to Dundonald WI stalwart Mrs Sally Cuthbertson, a former Federation chairman, at the 1975 Autumn Area meeting ‘for the benefit of Federation House’. In 1978 Federation House opened at Finaghy following the presentation of a cheque for £23,000; the house was a former chemist’s shop with the adjoining family premises at 209/211 Upper Lisburn Road. Institutes were encouraged to start keeping an annual scrapbook in the 1970s to

make a record of their meetings through photographs, press cuttings and illustra- tions – a page per meeting artistically presented and considered to be of interest to future generations. Competitions were held for the best page, best cover and best complete scrapbook. Of course when a group of women meet, outings are inevitably discussed and

they became an important feature of the 1970s in WI circles. Groups enjoyed trips by coach to places such as the Armagh Planetarium, the Lake District, Edinburgh, Chester, York, Harrogate and London. An Grianan, home of the ICA (Irish Countrywoman’s Association) near Drogheda, was also a favourite venue for learning new crafts and enjoying good food and fellowship with our sister organisation. WI is part of a much larger organisation of more than 8m women from around the

world called ACWW (Associated Countrywomen of the World). Our collection of ‘Pennies for Friendship’ covers the administration and through further funding we seek to support women who are less fortunate than ourselves in developing coun- tries – for example by sinking a village well in the ‘Water for All’ project, supplying help to those with nutrition deficiency blindness or giving support to a group of rural women attempting to start a small business to support their families in the ‘Women feed the World’ project. Northern Ireland has long been recognised for its generosity to ACWW. Trough these projects several of our members have trav- elled to remote areas of the world such as Kenya and India to observe at firsthand the benefits to the women involved. Today many WI members are proud to say they have attended their Institutes

regularly for 30, 40, 50 years or more – and their mothers before them! All are agreed that through WI they have forged lasting friendships and brought enrich- ment to their lives.


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